It is quiet in the house and early. The wind is blowing steadily and strong after the night of storms; the house is creaking and bending, the crows calling, and I can hear the deep far away sound of the world turning as it does in the morning, making music.
I am wakeful and anxious as today is a day that I have been working toward for a long time. Today is the day that I am going to ask the world for something; that I’m going to give it something and hope it doesn’t turn me down. I am an admirer with a ring in my pocket and flowers in my hand, determined to give a speech. I am a surprise party hiding behind a couch with balloons. I am a fixer upper, remodeled and put together just for you.
A couple of years ago, my husband gifted me a leather journal, thick with heavy, lined paper and covered in musical notation. I love it. The pages are just the right size; for when laid open, the two page spread gives me just enough room to take notes and make lists and still compose all in one space. It took me two years of writing music to fill it. I take it with me almost everywhere. All of the music on Taking Me Back was written in it. It is completely full.
It is hard for me to imagine that I spent two years on this project. A year writing music and crafting it, another year recording it. And now it is finished. As the advice is “make good art; put it out into the world,” –here world.
It is a big leap–or feels so to me–for me to make something and then turn around and call it art. It is a big leap to call oneself an artist. It feels like the title should come with credentials. It feels like the name should be applied by an objective outsider. It feels like wearing a costume to apply the term to yourself.
Why is that? I’m sure that it isn’t hard to call yourself a baker when you bake. It isn’t hard to call yourself a plumber if you plumb. Maybe it’s because we don’t have any real quantifiers when it comes to designating what is art and what is not. I mean not everyone who makes a cake is a “real” baker. My husband can fix a leaky faucet (actually he can fix anything and just in the last evening he’s fixed the printer, the stapler, dinner, the router, and my email) but he’s not a plumber. We all understand the difference. Maybe that’s why some of us worry that we have not earned the title. No one can really say what is art and what is not. Who is an artist and who is not. And without a test to pass, no one can say for sure what it is you are doing. At least at first.
I read some advice for Pledge Music campaigns like mine just recently and it said, “This is not the time to be cool. This is the time to be real. And tell your friends the truth.” Well, okay, this is real. And this is the truth: I really need your support. I really need your enthusiasm. I need to sell this album, in all its forms, and make the record label super happy and willing to make another one. I really need to defy the odds and the critics, especially the one in my head. More truth: I’m both nervous and happy. Nervous because I don’t want to let everyone down. Nervous because I don’t want to fail. Nervous because I’m really not good at asking for help. Nervous because I worked really hard, and it’s still not perfect, and it’s not going to be. And happy because now I get to enjoy this for a little while. Playing and talking and laughing and living it. Happy because I get to go out and be in the world with it and be a part of things with it. Happy because I made something and had the chance to put it out into the world, and I did it.
Whether I have earned the title of artist or not I cannot know. But I have made something and it’s too late to turn back now. I have made something, and I’m putting it out into the world. I have made it for you, dear.
Sara Quah- For You, Dear
So, here it is: the Pledge Music Pre-Order Campaign for Taking Me Back.
If you want to read more about how I got to this place, this day (!), check out this post.